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is a word of Middle English origin, meaning "testicles".

The word is often used figuratively in colloquial British English and Hiberno-English as a noun to mean "nonsense", an expletive following a minor accident or misfortune, or an adjective to mean "poor quality" or "useless". " and "That's a load of old bollocks" generally indicate contempt for a certain task, subject or opinion.

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One of the early references is Wycliffe's Bible (1382), Leviticus xxii, 24: "Al beeste, that ...

kitt and taken a wey the ballokes is, ye shulen not offre to the Lord..." (any beast that is cut and taken away the bollocks, you shall not offer to the Lord, i.e. The OED states (with abbreviations expanded): "Probably a derivative of Teutonic ball-, of which the Old English representative would be inferred as beall-u, -a, or -e".

The Teutonic ball- in turn probably derives from the Proto-Indo-European base *bhel-, to inflate or swell.

This base also forms the root of many other words, including "phallus".

From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, bollocks or ballocks was allegedly used as a slang term for a clergyman, although this meaning is not mentioned by the OED's 1989 edition.

For example, in 1864, the Commanding Officer of the Straits Fleet regularly referred to his chaplain as "Ballocks".

It has been suggested that bollocks came to have its modern meaning of "nonsense" because clergymen were notorious for talking nonsense during their sermons.

Originally, the word "bollocks" was the everyday vernacular word for testicles—as noted above, it was used in this sense in the first English-language bible, in the 14th century.

By the mid-seventeenth century, at least, it had begun to acquire coarse figurative meanings (see section on "bollocking"), for example in a translation of works by Rabelais.

It did not appear in Samuel Johnson's 1755 dictionary of the English language.

The relative severity of the various profanities, as perceived by the British public, was studied on behalf of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, Independent Television Commission, BBC and Advertising Standards Authority.

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